School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Gail L. Collins


social promotion, skipped, promoted, phenomenology, transcendental, academic motivation


Curriculum and Instruction | Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the lived experiences of social promotion for high school students in the southeastern region of Virginia. The theories guiding this study are Ryan and Deci’s (2000) self-determination theory and Bandura’s (1989) social cognitive theory. The self-determination theory was used to examine the motivation of high school students after being socially promoted, and the social cognitive theory was used to examine self-efficacy as it relates to academic performance and long-term goals. These theories are relevant to this study because they identify components that students require in order to be academically successful after being socially promoted. Most research has looked at how retention has impacted students’ academic performance; however, limited research has been conducted on the overall impact of the social promotion on their motivation. The central research question of this study asked, How do high school students describe their lived experience of social promotion? Data collection consisted of face-to-face interviews, online discussion board forums, and a hypothetical letter written by participants to potential socially promoted students. This study’s participants included five high school students and five teachers. Data analysis strategies included horizonalization, clustering, and coding. The results of this study revealed even though socially promoted high school students faced challenges as they transitioned into high school, they experienced positive results in their academic performance, motivation, and long-term goals. The success of the students occurred due to their ability to adapt to a new learning environment, their drive/desire to achieve success, the availability of academic and familial support, and their ability to overcome the socioemotional aspects of their situation.